Denver Street Soccer – “Getting people off the street and on to the field”
A year ago, Brandon Sejera combined his love for soccer with his desire to help end homelessness in Denver. With the collision of his two passions, Denver Street Soccer was born. Sejera got the idea after helping train the Spanish national homeless team for the 2006 Homeless World Cup while he studied abroad in Madrid during college.
“Denver is home to the highest rate of youth living on the streets in the United States,” Sejera says. “Every night, 1,200 young people between the ages of 13-24 are homeless in our city.”
This shocking statistic can change.
“The goal of our organization is to end homelessness in Denver through soccer,” Amber McMahon, Denver Street Soccer Director of Development explains. “While we don’t offer direct services, such as housing and food, our mission is to use soccer to teach such life skills as communication, teamwork, dealing with defeat, setting and reaching goals, for our players to apply to their lives both on and off the field.”
The British Bulldog Supporters Group for the Colorado Rapids has supplied a generous amount of support for Denver Street Soccer, providing dedicated volunteers and monetary support of the organization.
Twice a week, Brandon Sejera and Amber McMahon meet with participants of this outreach at a local practice field downtown. They spend roughly two hours practicing basic soccer technics, all while building relationships with the players.
“This is a way of getting more dedicated and more active,” participant Anthony Webb explains. “I really wasn’t dedicated to most stuff, but I figured I want to get into a sport. I never got into a sport, so I might as well go try something new.”
“I heard about it from the shelter,” Sean Spencer comments. “I have been a part of Denver Street Soccer since June 2010. I am the type of person where I am committed. This is like a guarantee workout for me, so I can stay in shape.”
Denver Street Soccer kicked off it’s inaugural season by taking four players to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Street Soccer USA Cup in July 2010.
“We were the newest team out there, but our players held their heads high and played their best,” shares McMahon. “They came back to Denver so much more confident, both in soccer and in their personal lives.”
“This experience contributed to the transformation of our players’ lives,” Sejera writes. “In the past year, they have found jobs and traineeships, moved out of shelters, and enrolled in school.”
The mission of Denver Street Soccer is ‘to use soccer as a means to overcome homelessness, foster positive social change, and provide the opportunity for our players to live meaningful and fulfilling lives’.
“I love the game of soccer and the many experiences that can come from it,” founder Sejera describes. “I have developed great friendships and have learned many important life lessons through my experience playing soccer over the years. A lot of qualities from playing soccer can and should be transferred and used in everyday life.”
“It’s been entirely worth it for me to dedicate my time to Denver Street Soccer,” states director McMahon. “This is my passion. I’ve always believed that soccer is a powerful tool for social change that connects people across the world.”
To learn more about Denver Street Soccer and how you can make a difference in the homeless youth of Denver by mentoring, coaching, supporting, or donating, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find them on Facebook by searching Denver Street Soccer.